The Problem of Evil, I Want In Too!

I haven’t been keeping up much on my “blog surfer” tab as of late.  However, I had some free time tonight, and I wondered what was going on with those who I had neglected as of late.  I found that there is a very interesting conversation going on between Brooks, Sirius, Eric Burns and Cubik’s Rube.  I’ve had the pleasure of conversing with Cubik on several occasions and he has always formed an intellectual argument, even if it wasn’t always rational.  I won’t attempt to recreate the conversation in any fashion here for two reasons: 1) it would take up too much space and 2) it’s irrelevant to the point I want to make and the question I want to ask.

It will suffice to say that the conversation has entered into the realm of the problem of evil, one of the most legitimate arguments any thinker can take upon themselves.  As it stands, Eric Burns, and an astute commentor on his blog named “Pilgrim”, have pointed out that . . .

1.  “Evil” is not a commodity in itself that was created by God, rather it is the absence of good.

2.  Taking away evil would also require God to take away all Free Will. 

These are both excellent points in and of themselves, and I can’t wait to hear what Cubik has to say in response.

My Point

I want to bring to light the statement/belief that is simmering beneath the surface of Cubik’s belief system, especially his stance on evil.  Cubik’s premise that, “If there is an all-powerful, all-loving, all-knowing God then there would be no evil”, is ignoring what his true argument is.  We can’t let him get away with it.  Can’t you hear it underneath the surface?  What Cubik is really (and arrogantly I might add) saying is, “God wouldn’t do it this way”.  Cubik’s theological belief is that God wouldn’t do it the way Cubik thinks Cubik would have done it.  Is this really an argument based in logical deduction?

My Question

In order to abolish all evil on Earth, God must force all human beings to act all good all the time.  Here it is:

If God created you a moral zombie, who had no choice but to obey Him at all times, wouldn’t you be more angry at Him for this? 

If true, then either way you will be angry with God.  Either for allowing evil to exist or for forcing evil to not exist.  The truth, then, becomes that you prefer to live your life as if God doesn’t exist, or at least is incompetent.  This preference overrides any intellectual reasons for denying His existence, or competence.  Instead, your intellect get’s put into overdrive with the task of justifying your preference.

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10 Comments on “The Problem of Evil, I Want In Too!”

  1. p4cs Says:

    Thought provoking…thanks for jumping in.

    Blessings,
    David Zook
    http://www.p4cs.wordpress.com
    A Physical for the Christian Soul

  2. Gstudent Says:

    Is there evil in heaven?

  3. Eric Kemp Says:

    Gstudent

    And since there isn’t any evil in heaven, therefore there is no free will in heaven, right?

  4. Gstudent Says:

    Is there evil in heaven? Its a simple question why are you trying to dodge and evade it?

  5. Eric Kemp Says:

    Gstudent

    You really want me to take you seriously when you ask a question you already know the answer to? Of course there is no evil in heaven, that’s the point of heaven. And now you’ll say exactly what I said you will, “If you say that to eradicate evil God would have to get rid of free will, then there is no free will in heaven.” Go ahead. I’ll respond when you’re done.

  6. cubiksrube Says:

    My true argument has been better spelled out in the ongoing discussion over at Eric Burns’ blog recently, I think. My assertion (which brings about the contradiction) is that if a god exists who is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-loving, there would be no justification for the existence of evil. I don’t think I’m assuming anything about any particular god’s behaviour; I’m saying it follows from the axiomatic assertions made about God that the suffering we see should not exist. It’s not about how I would have done it – if he can stop the intense suffering and anguish of the hapless humans he loves with all his being, I’m yet to hear a reason why he wouldn’t.

    If God created you a moral zombie, who had no choice but to obey Him at all times, wouldn’t you be more angry at Him for this?

    No. I’d have no such volition to be angry, and nothing to be angry about. God would be taking control, so that no suffering could ever take place. That sounds like a much better deal than what we’re getting now.

    And I’ll say it: If you say that to eradicate evil God would have to get rid of free will, then there is no free will in heaven. Or is there?

  7. Gstudent Says:

    “You really want me to take you seriously when you ask a question you already know the answer to? Of course there is no evil in heaven, that’s the point of heaven. And now you’ll say exactly what I said you will, “If you say that to eradicate evil God would have to get rid of free will, then there is no free will in heaven.” Go ahead. I’ll respond when you’re done.”

    I just wanted an answer to my question, thanks.

  8. Eric Kemp Says:

    Cubik

    Hey, I’m glad you responded!

    “My assertion (which brings about the contradiction) is that if a god exists who is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-loving, there would be no justification for the existence of evil.”

    Correct, and it has been explained to you that evil is not a “thing” in itself, but actually an absence of good, just like darkness is the absence of light and cold is the absence of heat. Hence, attributing the existence of evil to God as a created thing just doesn’t follow. Now, if you are criticizing God for allowing evil, then that is where your argument becomes “I don’t like how God did it”. Especially when you consider that to rid the world of evil, God would also have to rid human beings of free will.

    You say regarding this . . . “God would be taking control, so that no suffering could ever take place. That sounds like a much better deal than what we’re getting now.”

    Well that’s just a matter of opinion. You are literally saying, “Well I would prefer it if God did it the way I think He should.” You are taking the non-existence of suffering as a greater good than the existence of free will. That you would rather have a bunch of moral zombies that can only utter the words “oooobbbeeeyyy” (in my best zombie impression). At this point, the discussion degrades into which each of us thinks is “better”, no suffering or no free will.

    In fact, the situation is worse for you. You can’t even logically call the “no suffering/no free” will world any “better” than what we have now. In that world, you wouldn’t know any evil, so you couldn’t call anything “better”. Better than what?

    “It’s not about how I would have done it – if he can stop the intense suffering and anguish of the hapless humans he loves with all his being, I’m yet to hear a reason why he wouldn’t.”

    Although it’s already been pointed out to you what God’s alternative would be, the destruction of free will, and how you can’t call this world any “better”, I’ll give you the reason. Because an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving Creator God knows better than you.

    “I’d have no such volition to be angry, and nothing to be angry about. God would be taking control, so that no suffering could ever take place. That sounds like a much better deal than what we’re getting now.”

    Right, you wouldn’t be able to be angry, and you wouldn’t be able to be happy, and you couldn’t call this world “a better deal”, because you wouldn’t know any worse.

    But my question was actually more along the lines of this: if God told you that He created a world with a bunch of moral zombies who can do nothing but what He wills, wouldn’t you call God a cruel, evil child with an ant hill and be justified in doing so?

    “And I’ll say it: If you say that to eradicate evil God would have to get rid of free will, then there is no free will in heaven. Or is there?”

    To do this question justice I would have to do a much more lengthy explanation and response. However, this will have to do. Eric Burns actually had a good lead in to the answer to this. His “World 4” (if I remember correctly) was that God created human beings with free will and yet the world is without suffering. It was explained how impossible this “World 4” is, and that we obviously don’t live in it, but the question becomes, “Why is World 4 impossible?” Since the fall of Adam, all human beings are born with a nature of sin. Men aren’t born inherently good, they are born inherently with a lack of good, with a rebellious nature, with a propensity for selfishness. This selfishness leads us to cause suffering for others, this rebellion from God leads to evil behavior. The Apostle Paul tells us, quoting King David, “There is no one good, no not one. There is none who seeks the Lord, none who understands.” In heaven, this nature won’t exist. We will be able to choose good without that inherent propensity to rebel from God. There is your answer, the evil nature men are born with won’t exist in heaven.

  9. Cubik's Rube Says:

    (I’m at work and not logged in, so not sure how this’ll show up, but it’s definitely me, honest.)

    The thing about evil as an absence of good might get distracting from whatever we were first talking about, but I still don’t buy that either. Evil seems to require a deliberate presence, rather than just a lack of goodness. I don’t see any good taking place on the surface of the planet Neptune, but I doubt it’s an evil place either. Kicking a puppy in the face is a different matter from ignoring a puppy, or an absence of puppies.

    I’ll admit that I may be criticising God for allowing evil to exist, at least as much as for actively creating it himself, on the grounds that it doesn’t come from him as a direct source. But if he’s all-powerful and all-loving, it still falls within his purview. It’s not just that I don’t like his methods, or his way of doing things somehow hasn’t worked out that great for me personally – I’m arguing that the way the world is arranged is indefensibly poor and inappropriate if God has all the attributes claimed for him. I wouldn’t just prefer it, I’m trying to make the case that it would necessarily be better if he did it a different way – say, one which abolished all suffering.

    It would be better because God could make sure that everyone he’d created was blissfully happy all the time. Maybe they’d have to be mindless zombies to make this happen, or maybe he’s a bit more creative than to leave us all as drooling idiots, but even then it seems obvious that we’d all be much happier than we’ll ever be in this world. Why would it matter that we wouldn’t have any negative experiences to compare it to, to understand how this is “better” than constant famine and pestilence and rape and murder? Ignorance is bliss. It might not make for a very rich or varied experience, but Africa could probably do without the variety of TB, AIDS, polio, starvation…

    In practice, allowing a human (or collective of humans) to act as a benelovent dictator with absolute authority is dangerous, because that benevolence is a tenuous concept, especially in the face of such power and control. But God is all-powerful and has absolutely authority anyway, and if he loves us all that much then he ought to be a good bet for a truly benevolent dictator anyway. The cruel child with an anthill analogy isn’t always inappropriate for God, but the child’s cruelty usually comes from his enjoyment at seeing the ants suffer. How would this apply in a world where there is no suffering?

  10. Eric Kemp Says:

    Cubik

    Your comment showed up perfectly.

    “Evil seems to require a deliberate presence, rather than just a lack of goodness. I don’t see any good taking place on the surface of the planet Neptune, but I doubt it’s an evil place either. Kicking a puppy in the face is a different matter from ignoring a puppy, or an absence of puppies.”

    People only “have” evil because they aren’t completely good. I’ve given you the analogies and the arguments for how evil, as a thing, is actually just a lack of good. Let me give you one more. God is all good, holy and righteous. There is no “equal and opposing” force of evil that God has to fight against. There is just God. So, therefore, there is no driving force of evil. Evil is just not following God. It’s that simple. If you don’t buy it, then fine, there is nothing else I can do. Kicking a dog in the face is a lack of respect for the dog’s life and pain.

    “It’s not just that I don’t like his methods, or his way of doing things somehow hasn’t worked out that great for me personally – I’m arguing that the way the world is arranged is indefensibly poor and inappropriate if God has all the attributes claimed for him. I wouldn’t just prefer it, I’m trying to make the case that it would necessarily be better if he did it a different way – say, one which abolished all suffering.”

    Firstly, I’ll repeat that you are telling God that there is no greater good than what you consider to be the greatest good. Or that His plan is not going to end up for the greatest good for humanity. No matter how you say it, you are simply telling God that you don’t like how He did it. This is arrogance of the highest order.

    Secondly, it seems now though that we are getting into the question of natural evil. Which is that evil that isn’t created by the free will of humanity. Is this where we’re going?

    “It would be better because God could make sure that everyone he’d created was blissfully happy all the time. Maybe they’d have to be mindless zombies to make this happen, or maybe he’s a bit more creative than to leave us all as drooling idiots, but even then it seems obvious that we’d all be much happier than we’ll ever be in this world.”

    The point is that you couldn’t even call them “happy”. That word has no meaning when there is no other kind of emotion they could have besides happy. When they have no choice but to be happy, then happiness ceases to exist.

    “Ignorance is bliss.”

    That phrase only applies to a situation in which you could know differently, where you could be not ignorant. In your world that God “should have” created, there is no choice to know, therefore bliss doesn’t exist and there is no ignorance either. There isn’t any way else to feel or anything else to know. Those words don’t exist or have meaning.

    In your last paragraph, basically what you’re doing Cubik is not taking into account that, even hypothetically speaking, God knows what is better for you than you do. You think that blissful ignorance would be better for you and humanity, but God knows what is truly better for you.

    Along those same lines, let me posit a theory for you. You must admit that happiness has no meaning in your ideal world because the word “happiness” only has meaning in comparison to another state of mind/being that is “not happiness”. When you have no choice to be “happy”, then the word ceases to have meaning and your emotion ceases to be “happy” because there is nothing to compare it to. Your state of mind just IS, and there is nothing to describe it in relation to. Happiness doesn’t exist. So, perhaps God created a world in which He could allow suffering so that He could also allow happiness. God’s creation gets to experience joy, pleasure, bliss, and happiness because He allowed suffering.


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